Today United Workers Union members in early education are taking a National Day of Workplace Action to call on the Federal Government to commit to funding a payrise in their sector.
Quotes attributable to Sarah Gardner, Deputy Director Early Education, United Workers Union
“Today parents are showing their support as educators take a National Day of Workplace Action.
“Educators have commenced the first ever Multi Employer Bargaining process in this country to get the payrise they deserve and a stronger representative voice. Thousands of educators stand to benefit from a new Agreement which will be the first of its kind. Educators are seeking a 25% increase to wages to save the sector.
“But so far the Federal Government has not made a clear commitment to come to the bargaining table willing to fund any pay increase resulting from negotiations.
“That’s why today educators are taking action nationally, with a range of activities across the country, using the day to engage with parents and have honest conversations about how the current workforce crisis is affecting educators and children.
“Parents have been amazingly supportive, including taking photo pledges and writing to local MPs about the crisis. They know that without the Federal Government committing to funding educators’ wages, they will continue to struggle to take advantage of the recently increased subsidies for families.
“Today educators have also launched a new Crisis Tracker to map how the crisis is affecting educators and parents. Centres are already providing eye-opening details about the workforce crisis, pressures on staff, and wait times for services for families.
“MPs need to know that this is happening in their electorate. Educators are burning out, parents can’t access services, and children are being denied a fundamental right to education.”
Quote attributable to Caren Aspinall, Victorian Centre Director:
“Early childhood educators are poorly paid. They struggle to pay their own childcare fees and other costs of daily living. They need a wage that reflects their value and allows them to pay their bills and get ahead for their families.
“We have lost over thousands of educators from the sector over the past year alone. Many centres have had to close rooms or their whole centre because they don’t have enough staff to safely open. If we cannot care for your children, you cannot go to work and the whole system breaks down.
“Early childhood education is not just child-minding. Early childhood educators support the social and emotional development of the children in their care. In partnership with families, we are supporting children to understand their place in their communities and learn how to navigate their relationships and their impact on others. We are helping them become our future adults and citizens. Given the importance of this task, educators should be paid in a way that reflects this importance and recognises the skills, qualifications and experience of these educators.
“Fees are already high and families can’t afford to pay more. The government needs a new system to fund early childhood care. Paying educators decent wages cannot be dependent on families paying more.
“Families are supporting our campaign. It’s time for the government to let early childhood educators know that they are valued by paying them a living wage.”
Quotes attributable to Thomas, Canberra parent:
“As a parent of two young children in early learning, I’m extremely concerned with the exit of qualified staff from the early childhood education sector, primarily due to wages and conditions.
“Passionate staff can no longer live sustainably without significant wage increases. With other sectors, such as aged care, receiving a justified and necessary wage increase to cover cost of living and move the base wage to a reasonable level, the industry is haemorrhaging staff for other opportunities.
“To ensure we have enough staff to provide this essential service for Australian families, the government needs to respond to the sector’s call and increase the wage of all our early childhood educators.”
Quotes attributable to Leane, Canberra educator:
“I have worked in the ECE sector for over 18 years. Prior to COVID, it was unheard of for a service to ring families to tell them they didn’t have enough educators to meet the ratio that day, so they would have to keep their children at home. This is now becoming a regular occurrence in early learning services across the country.
“Early childhood educators are feeling undervalued and burnt out. I’ve seen and heard discussions from educators who are being refused sick leave because there isn’t anyone to cover them, educators who are expected to eat their lunch in the room with the children and forgo their lunch breaks because there is no one to cover them. Educators are leaving the sector in droves.
“The government claim that there are over 70,000 families locked out of the childcare sector because it is unaffordable, so they have increased the childcare subsidy. This is great for families and a move that the sector supports. However, my question is, how is the government planning to address the ECE sector crisis to support this influx of new families? We don’t have enough educators to support more families, let alone the families we currently have.”
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